NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) – A 14-year-old boy admitted Friday that he planned a Columbine-style attack on a suburban Philadelphia high school, which could keep him in juvenile custody for up to 6½ years.

Dillon Cossey’s admission came about two weeks after authorities searched his Plymouth Township home and found a 9 mm rifle, about 30 air guns modeled to look like high-powered weapons, swords, knives, a bomb-making book, videos of the 1999 Columbine attack in Colorado and violence-filled notebooks.

Cossey tried to recruit another boy in the plan, which included chaining shut the doors at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School and backing a car up to the door, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. said Friday.

Cossey, who was home-schooled, admitted to three felonies – criminal solicitation, risking a catastrophe and possession of an instrument of crime – in Montgomery County juvenile court.

Michele Cossey, 46, is charged with buying her son a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and a 9 mm semiautomatic rifle with a laser scope. She would face a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison on the most serious charge, unlawful transfer of a firearm, but prosecutors expect she would get a much lighter sentence because she doesn’t have a criminal record.

The boy will be placed in juvenile custody. The longest he can remain there is until his 21st birthday, although he could be released much sooner. He will receive regular evaluations by Judge Paul Tressler.

“I’m going to make it clear to you and your parents, if you get to the point where you’re ready to get home, but they’re not worthy of having you, I’ll send you somewhere else” such as to a relative or foster home, Tressler told Cossey.

Cossey admitted telling a friend that he wanted to pull off an attack similar to the 1999 assault on Columbine High School in Colorado, saying, “the world would be better off without bullies,” according to Castor.

Cossey, who last attended public school in the seventh grade, took the stand and answered mostly yes-no questions while glancing occasionally at his parents.

His attorney, J. David Farrell, read from a letter that Cossey wrote earlier this week.

“First off, I would like to apologize for the trouble I caused,” the boy wrote. “I realize now that I was not thinking correctly. I want everyone to know that what was in my room does not change what was in my heart.”

Castor said Cossey described to police being bullied only a few times, but Farrell believes it was more frequent.

“My investigation has really disclosed that he has been the subject of protracted and profound peer abuse his whole life. It drove him from school,” Farrell said.

Authorities do not believe the teen was close to pulling off an attack; he had no ammunition and the boy he approached was the first he had asked for assistance.

Farrell said people who know Cossey don’t think he would have followed through.

“I think it was largely a fantasy that was beginning to cross the line,” Farrell said.

The mother bought the semiautomatic rifle at a gun show on Sept. 23 and provided police with a receipt, investigators have said. The teenager said the two .22-caliber weapons were stored at a family friend’s house.

His father has been on home confinement for violating parole by trying to buy his son a .22-caliber rifle last year. Frank Cossey had spent about six years in prison for manslaughter stemming from a a 1981 drunken-driving case in Oklahoma.

Police, who searched the home with the parents’ permission, also discovered seven explosive devices Castor has described as homemade grenades: plastic containers filled with BBs to which gunpowder could be added. Authorities said one was operable and the others in the process of being assembled.

The three felonies could have brought a sentence of up to 32 years in prison in adult court, but prosecutors had decided that Cossey would be better served in the juvenile system, given what they called psychiatric issues.

At the judge’s suggestion, Cossey met privately with his parents for about 10 minutes after Friday’s hearing.

“I believe that he has been dragged from his fantasy life, and I think he’s relieved by that,” Farrell said Friday afternoon. “I believe that he had a certain persona that he was maintaining for his friends. … I think that he is relieved to be a kid again, and excited about exploring everything that that means.”

AP-ES-10-26-07 1751EDT

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